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date: 03 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Assessment centers have always had a strong link with practise. This link is so strong that the theoretical basis of the workings of an assessment center is sometimes questioned. This article posits that trait activation theory might be fruitfully used to explain how job-relevant candidate behavior is elicited and rated in assessment centers. Trait activation theory is a recent theory that focuses on the person–situation interaction to explain behavior based on responses to trait-relevant cues found in situations. These observable responses serve as the basis for behavioral ratings on dimensions used in a variety of assessments such as performance appraisal and interviews, but in also assessment centers. The article starts by explaining the basic tenets behind the assessment center method and trait activation theory. It shows how trait activation theory might have key implications for current and future assessment center research. The article also provides various directions for future assessment center studies.

Keywords: assessment center, trait activation theory, candidate behavior, person–situation interaction, performance appraisal, interviews

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